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Xiang-Yu Li, Bernhard Mehlig, Gunilla Svensson, Axel Brandenburg, and Nils E. L. Haugen

Abstract

It was previously shown that the superdroplet algorithm for modeling the collision–coalescence process can faithfully represent mean droplet growth in turbulent clouds. An open question is how accurately the superdroplet algorithm accounts for fluctuations in the collisional aggregation process. Such fluctuations are particularly important in dilute suspensions. Even in the absence of turbulence, Poisson fluctuations of collision times in dilute suspensions may result in substantial variations in the growth process, resulting in a broad distribution of growth times to reach a certain droplet size. We quantify the accuracy of the superdroplet algorithm in describing the fluctuating growth history of a larger droplet that settles under the effect of gravity in a quiescent fluid and collides with a dilute suspension of smaller droplets that were initially randomly distributed in space (“lucky droplet model”). We assess the effect of fluctuations upon the growth history of the lucky droplet and compute the distribution of cumulative collision times. The latter is shown to be sensitive enough to detect the subtle increase of fluctuations associated with collisions between multiple lucky droplets. The superdroplet algorithm incorporates fluctuations in two distinct ways: through the random spatial distribution of superdroplets and through the Monte Carlo collision algorithm involved. Using specifically designed numerical experiments, we show that both on their own give an accurate representation of fluctuations. We conclude that the superdroplet algorithm can faithfully represent fluctuations in the coagulation of droplets driven by gravity.

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Scott W. Powell

Abstract

Idealized simulations of tropical, marine convection depict shallow, nonprecipitating cumuli located beneath the 0°C level transitioning into cumulonimbi that reach up to 12 km and higher. The timing of the transition was only weakly related to environmental stability, and 13 of the 15 simulations run with 5 different lapse-rate profiles had rain develop at nearly the same time after model start. The key quantity that apparently controlled deep convective formation was vertical acceleration inside cloudy updrafts between cloud base and the 0°C level. Below a critical value of updraft vertical acceleration, little rainfall occurred. Just as the domain-mean updraft acceleration reached the critical value, the first convection quickly grew to past 12 km altitude. Then, as acceleration increased above the critical value, rain rate averaged in the model domain increased quickly over about a 3-h-long period. The specific value of the critical updraft acceleration depended on how updrafts were defined and in what layer the acceleration was averaged; however, regardless of how criticality was defined, a robust relationship between domain-mean updraft vertical acceleration and rain rate occurred. Positive acceleration of updrafts below the 0°C level was present below 2.75 km and was largest in the 500 m above cloud base. However, the maximum difference between updraft and environmental temperatures occurred between 2 and 3 km. The domain-mean Archimedean buoyancy of updrafts relative to some reference state was a poor predictor for domain-mean rain rate. The exact value of the critical updraft acceleration likely depends on numerous other factors that were not investigated.

Significance Statement

A numerical model is utilized to investigate potential thermodynamic and dynamic quantities related to the growth of cumulus clouds into cumulonimbus clouds over tropical oceans when the atmosphere is sufficiently moist to support rainfall. Archimedean buoyancy alone cannot be used to predict rain rate reliably. Instead the total buoyancy not relative to an arbitrary reference state must be considered. The simulated relationship between total vertical acceleration in updrafts and rain rate was robust. While the processes that control the vertical acceleration remain unclear, our results highlight the importance of observing processes that occur on spatial scales of tens of meters and temporal scales of a few minutes.

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Paul E. Roundy

Abstract

A robust linear regression algorithm is applied to estimate 95% confidence intervals on the background wind associated with Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) upper-tropospheric atmospheric circulation signals characterized by different phase speeds. Data reconstructed from the ERA5 to represent advection by the upper-tropospheric background flow and MJO-associated zonal wind anomalies, together with satellite outgoing longwave radiation anomalies, all in the equatorial plane, are regressed against advection data filtered for zonal wavenumber 2 and phase speeds of 3, 4, 5, and 7 m s−1. The regressed advection by the background flow is then divided by the negative of the zonal gradient of regressed zonal wind across the central Indian Ocean base longitude at 80°E to estimate the associated background wind that leads to the given advection. The median estimates of background wind associated with these phase speeds are 13.4, 11.2, 10.5, and 10.3 m s−1 easterly. The differences between estimated values at neighboring speeds suggests that advection acts most strongly in slow MJO events, indicating that the slowest events happen to be slow because they experience stronger easterly advection by the upper-tropospheric background wind.

Significance Statement

The Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) is the dominant subseasonal rainfall signal of the tropical atmosphere. This project shows that the background wind of the tropical atmosphere most especially slows down the slowest MJO events. Understanding what controls its speed might help scientists better predict events.

Open access
Jyong-En Miao and Ming-Jen Yang

Abstract

A severe afternoon thunderstorm (ATS) system developed within the Taipei basin on 14 June 2015, which produced intense rainfall (with a rainfall rate of 131 mm h−1) and urban-scale flooding. A control simulation (CNTL) using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model with the horizontal grid size nested down to 500 m was performed to capture reasonably well the onset of the sea breeze, the merger of convective cells, and the evolution of the afternoon thunderstorm system. Four numerical sensitivity experiments with the increase or decrease of midlevel (700–500 hPa) relative humidity (RH) of 10% and 20% were conducted, and simulation results were compared with those from the CNTL. Although the response of convection to midlevel RH was somewhat nonlinear, sensitivity experiments showed that a dry layer at middle levels would result in stronger cold pool, more intense convection, stronger updraft, more graupel particles, stronger net latent heating above the melting level, and a much larger area of the potential flooding region [>40 mm (30 min)−1]. The estimation of bulk entrainment rate provided evidence that the entrainment rate could be reduced by stronger cold pool and the widening of moist convection area. Three terrain-removal sensitivity experiments indicated that Taipei basin modulated the response of convection intensity to midlevel RH. The basin terrain confined the outflow associated with ATS and forced it to converge with the moist sea breeze continuously, providing a favorable dynamic and thermodynamic environment for subsequent convection development. This “basin confinement effect” may be crucial for short-duration rainfall extremes over complex terrain.

Significance Statement

This study has examined the impact of midlevel moisture on the structure, evolution, and precipitation of an afternoon thunderstorm system that produced intense rainfall at Taipei using eight numerical experiments based on high-resolution model outputs. Our findings explain how a drier layer at middle levels would produce a more intense thunderstorm system, although the response of convection intensity to midlevel moisture is somewhat nonlinear. In addition, it is found that terrain could modulate the response of convection to midlevel moisture, which is rarely discussed in previous studies.

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Quentin Nicolas and William R. Boos

Abstract

Spatial patterns of tropical rainfall are strongly influenced by mountains. Although theories for precipitation induced by convectively stable upslope ascent exist for the midlatitudes, these do not represent the interaction of moist convection with orographic forcing. Here, we present a theory for convective precipitation produced by the mechanical interaction of a tropical ridge with a basic-state horizontal wind. Deviations from this basic state are represented as the sum of a “dry” perturbation, due to the stationary orographic gravity wave, and a “moist” perturbation that carries the convective response. The moist component dynamics are subject to the weak temperature gradient approximation; they are forced by the dry mode’s influence on lower-tropospheric moisture and temperature. Analytical solutions provide estimates of the precipitation distribution, including peak precipitation, upstream extent, and rain shadow extent. The theory can be used with several degrees of complexity depending on the technique used to compute the dry mode, which can be drawn from linear mountain wave theory or full numerical simulations. To evaluate the theory, we use a set of convection-permitting simulations with a flow-perpendicular ridge in a long channel. The theory makes a good prediction for the cross-slope precipitation profile, indicating that the organization of convective rain by orography can be quantitatively understood by considering the effect of stationary orographic gravity waves on a lower-tropospheric convective quasi-equilibrium state.

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Brandon Wolding, Scott W. Powell, Fiaz Ahmed, Juliana Dias, Maria Gehne, George Kiladis, and J. David Neelin

Abstract

This study examines thermodynamic–convection coupling in observations and reanalyses, and attempts to establish process-level benchmarks needed to guide model development. Thermodynamic profiles obtained from the NOAA Integrated Global Radiosonde Archive, COSMIC-1 GPS radio occultations, and several reanalyses are examined alongside Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission precipitation estimates. Cyclical increases and decreases in a bulk measure of lower-tropospheric convective instability are shown to be coupled to the cyclical amplification and decay of convection. This cyclical flow emerges from conditional-mean analysis in a thermodynamic space composed of two components: a measure of “undiluted” instability, which neglects lower-free-tropospheric (LFT) entrainment, and a measure of the reduction of instability by LFT entrainment. The observational and reanalysis products examined share the following qualitatively robust characterization of these convective cycles: increases in undiluted instability tend to occur when the LFT is less saturated, are followed by increases in LFT saturation and precipitation rate, which are then followed by decreases in undiluted instability. Shallow, convective, and stratiform precipitation are coupled to these cycles in a manner consistent with meteorological expectations. In situ and satellite observations differ systematically from reanalyses in their depictions of lower-tropospheric temperature and moisture variations throughout these convective cycles. When using reanalysis thermodynamic fields, these systematic differences cause variations in lower-free-tropospheric saturation deficit to appear less influential in determining the strength of convection than is suggested by observations. Disagreements among reanalyses, as well as between reanalyses and observations, pose significant challenges to process-level assessments of thermodynamic–convection coupling.

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A. K. Smith, N. M. Pedatella, and C. G. Bardeen

Abstract

Satellite observations of middle-atmosphere temperature are used to investigate the short-term global response to planetary wave activity in the winter stratosphere. The focus is on the relation between variations in the winter and summer hemispheres. The analysis uses observations from Thermosphere–Ionosphere–Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics (TIMED) Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry (SABER) for 2002–21 and Aura Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) for 2004–21, and reanalysis temperatures and winds from MERRA-2 for 2002–21. We calculate temporal correlations of the Eliassen–Palm flux divergence in the winter stratosphere with global temperature. Results show a robust perturbation extending to midlatitudes of the Southern Hemisphere (SH) stratosphere during Northern Hemisphere (NH) winter. An increase in wave forcing is followed by a decrease in temperatures over the depth of the stratosphere in the SH, peaking at a lag of 3 days. Summer mesospheric temperature perturbations of the opposite sign are seen in many winters. Comparable signals in the NH summer middle-atmosphere are present during some SH winters but are weaker and less consistent than those in the SH during NH winter. A diagnostic evaluation of the patterns of correlation, the mesospheric zonal winds, and the stability criteria suggests that the temperature perturbations in the midlatitude summer mesosphere are more closely associated with the summer stratosphere directly below than with the wave activity in the winter stratosphere. This suggests that the interhemispheric coupling in the stratosphere is driving or contributing to the coupling between the winter stratosphere and the summer mesosphere that has been reported in several investigations.

Significance Statement

There are many instances in which one part of the atmosphere is found to regularly respond to perturbations occurring in a distant region. In this study, we use observations to investigate one such pattern: temperature changes at high altitude (60–100 km) in the summer that follow dynamical changes near the winter pole at 40–60 km. Such analysis is useful to understand which physical processes contribute to the global connectivity and variability of the atmosphere.

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Ramon Padullés, Yi-Hung Kuo, J. David Neelin, F. Joseph Turk, Chi O. Ao, and Manuel de la Torre Juárez

Abstract

The transition to deep convection and associated precipitation is often studied in relationship to the associated column water vapor owing to the wide availability of these data from various ground or satellite-based products. Based on radiosonde and ground-based global navigation satellite system (GNSS) data examined at limited locations and model comparison studies, water vapor at different vertical levels is conjectured to have different relationships to convective intensity. Here, the relationship between precipitation and water vapor in different free-tropospheric layers is investigated using globally distributed GNSS radio occultation (RO) temperature and moisture profiles collocated with GPM IMERG precipitation across the tropical latitudes. A key feature of the RO measurement is its ability to directly sense in and near regions of heavy precipitation and clouds. Sharp pickups (i.e., sudden increases) of conditionally averaged precipitation as a function of water vapor in different tropospheric layers are noted for a variety of tropical ocean and land regions. The layer-integrated water vapor value at which this pickup occurs has a dependence on temperature that is more complex than constant RH, with larger subsaturation at warmer temperatures. These relationships of precipitation to its thermodynamic environment for different layers can provide a baseline for comparison with climate model simulations of the convective onset. Furthermore, vertical profiles before, during, and after convection are consistent with the hypothesis that the lower troposphere plays a causal role in the onset of convection, while the upper troposphere is moistened by detrainment from convection.

Open access
Ehud Gavze and Alexander Khain

Abstract

The aggregation rate of ice crystals depends on their shape and intercrystal relative velocity. Unlike spherical particles, the nonspherical ones can have various orientations relative to the gravitational force in the vertical direction and can approach each other at many different angles. Furthermore, the fall velocity of such particles could deviate from the vertical direction velocity. These properties add to the computational complexity of nonspherical particle collisions. In this study, we derive general mathematical expressions for gravity-induced swept volumes of spheroidal particles. The swept volumes are shown to depend on the particles’ joint orientation distribution and relative velocities. Assuming that the particles are Stokesian prolate and oblate spheroids of different sizes and aspect ratios, the swept volumes were calculated and compared to those of equivalent volume spheres. Most calculated swept volumes were larger than the swept volumes of equivalent spherical particles, sometimes by several orders of magnitude. This was due to both the complex geometry and the side drift, experienced by spheroids falling with their major axes not parallel to gravity. We expect that the collision rate between nonspherical particles is substantially higher than that of equivalent volume spheres because the collision process is nonlinear. These results suggest that the simplistic approach of equivalent spheres might lead to serious errors in the computation of the collision rate.

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Vanessa M. Przybylo, Kara J. Sulia, Zachary J. Lebo, and Carl G. Schmitt

Abstract

Bulk ice-microphysical models parameterize the dynamic evolution of ice particles from advection, collection, and sedimentation through a cloud layer to the surface. Frozen hydrometeors can grow to acquire a multitude of shapes and sizes, which influence the distribution of mass within cloud systems. Aggregates, defined herein as the collection of ice particles, have a variety of formations based on initial ice particle size, shape, falling orientation, and the number of particles that collect. This work focuses on using the Ice Particle and Aggregate Simulator (IPAS) as a statistical tool to repetitively collect ice crystals of identical properties to derive bulk aggregate characteristics. A database of 9 744 000 aggregates is generated with resulting properties analyzed. After 150 single ice crystals (monomers) collect, the most extreme aggregate aspect ratio calculations asymptote toward ϕca=(c/a)0.75 and ϕca ≈ 0.50 for aggregates composed of quasi-horizontally oriented and randomly oriented monomers, respectively. The results presented are largely consistent with both a previous theoretical study and estimates derived from ground-based observations from two different geographic locations. Particle falling orientation highly influences newly formed aggregate aspect ratios from the collection of particles with extreme aspect ratios; quasi-horizontally oriented particles can produce aggregate aspect ratios an order of magnitude more extreme than randomly oriented particles but can also produce near-spherical aggregates as the number of monomers comprising the aggregate reach approximately 100. Finally, a majority of collections result in aggregates that are closer to prolate than oblate spheroids.

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